Rakuten Symphony, Axiata to foster O-RAN deployments in Asia

Rakuten Symphony said the agreement stipulates the deployment of private networks in six Asian markets

MWC, Barcelona—Axiata Enterprise, which is a business solutions company owned by Asian mobile telecommunications conglomerate Axiata, and Japanese company Rakuten Symphony have inked an agreement under which the latter will deliver private network telecommunications services across Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Indonesia.

The Japanese firm is the network solutions arm of operator Rakuten Mobile.

In a release, both parties noted that the agreement will enable the deployment of Open RAN (O-RAN) solutions to business customers across South Asia.

Gopi Kurup, CEO of Axiata Enterprise, said: “The agreement with Rakuten Symphony presents business owners and enterprises in ASEAN and South Asia a way to level up their game through O-RAN-based private 4G and 5G networks.

Tareq Amin, CEO of Rakuten Mobile and Rakuten Symphony, added that the O-RAN networks will be packaged as network-in-a-box solutions to Axiata’s business customers across Asia looking to provide private enterprise telco solutions.

During MWC 2023, Rakuten Symphony also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Saudi telco Zain for the provision of mobile services via O-RAN technology.

Under the terms of the MoU, Rakuten will work with Zain to implement a cloud-native, fully virtualized radio access solution architecture, which will be Open RAN 4G and 5G-based with advanced automation capabilities.

Zain KSA CTO, Abdulrahman Al-Mufadda, said: “This collaboration will leverage and maximize the strengths of Zain KSA and Rakuten to accelerate innovation and drive the Saudi ICT sector toward achieving Saudi Vision 2030’s goals to transform the Kingdom into a digital hub that fosters a digital economy and hyper-connected society.”

Last month, Rakuten Symphony had announced the general availability of its Symworld RAN Commander solution for automated 5G mobile network planning and optimization.

Rakuten said that its RAN Commander can boost Radio Access Network (RAN) productivity planning by four times, compared to conventional planning and optimization methods.

Rakuten Mobile and Rakuten Symphony had previously announced plans to build an Open RAN Customer Experience Center at the Rakuten Symphony offices in the U.K. by March 2023. The center will offer telecom operators and industry suppliers in the European and Middle East region direct experience and testing of the latest technological advances in the field.

Rakuten also said the new offices will focus on three primary goals, starting with validating the interoperability of Open RAN devices. The facility will validate equipment interoperability in a multivendor environment by performing connection confirmation verification, it said. The second goal is to create an exhibition facility to demonstrate Open RAN hardware and software in action, giving visitors and opportunity to see how “next-generation mobile networks will be used to improve operational efficiency and new services,” Rakuten said.

The third goal, said Rakuten, is to conduct Open RAN-related workshops and events to introduce “policies, trends and initiatives to European and overseas network operators and telecommunications equipment suppliers.”

Rakuten has been operating a Mobile Open Innovation Lab in Tokyo, Japan since August 2022.

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